Trump tweets support for Jexodus, group seeking to wean Jewish voters off Democratic party

Trump on Tuesday promoted comments by former model and 2016 campaign staffer Elizabeth Pipko, who said on Fox & Friends that “Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party.”

By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News 

Trump on Tuesday promoted comments by former model and 2016 campaign staffer Elizabeth Pipko, who said on Fox & Friends that “Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party.”

Pipko, who serves as spokesperson for the group “Jexodus,” which bills itself as speaking for “Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics,” saw her comments amplified by Trump on Twitter. “There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party,” she continued. “They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.”

Trump mentioned Pipko in a tweet, saying “‘Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party. We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama Administration, and it got worsts [sic] & worse. There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.’ Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus.”

Jexodus

“Jexodus,” a word play on Exodus, the story of when the Jews left Egypt, is a group that launched this month. Jewish millennials who started the group said they did so because they are tired of the Democratic party’s “blatant disregard for anti-Semitism.”

The group seeks to galvanize young Jewish Americans who are afraid to speak out about their political beliefs. It will begin holding rallies in April, around the Jewish Passover holiday, which commemorates the Exodus story. The first rallies will be held in New York and Florida. The goal is then to spread to other parts of the country.

Pipko is leading the charge for Jexodus, serving as the group’s national spokesperson. “I hope, first of all, to ease the fears of young people around the country who are now being forced into hiding their views or even changing them in order to feel accepted or safe,” Pipko said.

“We need to help encourage and support young Jews to feel safe and proud enough to feel unafraid to stand up for themselves and their beliefs,” Pipko said.

Pipko, a 23-year-old New Yorker, Maxim model, one-time competitive figure skater and proud Jew who keeps the Sabbath and Jewish dietary laws, sat down for an exclusive interview with World Israel News in February.

Pipko detailed her experience working as a volunteer and then a full-time staffer for the 2016 Trump campaign, a fact she had kept hidden in order not to endanger her modeling career.

Pipko faced a backlash online when she finally revealed her support for Trump. She was even called a “Nazi,” an insult which was particularly unsettling given that she had family who suffered at the hands of real Nazis.

Will Jews switch parties?

The political atmosphere may be favorable to Jexodus’ success given the ongoing controversy surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) who has made repeated anti-Semitic comments which the Democratic party has had difficulty condemning outright.

“Democrats have been getting more hostile to Israel and cavorting ever more openly with anti-Semites,” said Jeff Ballabon, an adviser for Jexodus. “The old guard establishment is losing credibility and power, while the rising tide of millennials is joining with highly identified Jews to break down the walls of our political ghetto,” he added.

Trump received less than 30 percent of the Jewish vote in the 2016 presidential election, with 71 percent going to then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. However, the president still hopes to capitalize on the Democrats’ fumbling of the anti-Semitism issue.

“Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party,” Trump said from the White House last Friday, according to Fox News. Trump made his comments in the context of the resolution passed by the House of Representatives which condemned bigotry broadly, watering down an earlier draft which specifically condemned anti-Semitism.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, was asked on Monday about President Trump’s thoughts on potential Jewish hatred in the Democratic Party.

“Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that,” Sanders said. “That’s a question you should ask Democrats, what their position is, since they’re unwilling to call this what it is and call it out by name and take action against members who have done things like this.”

Although American Jews are not a particularly significant voting bloc, even a small shift, though, can be significant.

“We’re slicing the salami very thin, and an incremental shift in traditional Democratic blocs to the other side can have a profound impact,” said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He said his group plans to make “the largest investment that we’ve ever had in the 2020 race in terms of outreach, advocacy and independent expenditures on behalf of the president.”

Both parties acknowledge the controversy is unlikely to alter dramatically the electoral votes of the American Jewish community, which has skewed decisively toward Democrats for more than a generation.

Over the last decade, Jewish voters have shown stability in their partisanship, according to data from Pew Research Center. Jewish voters identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party over the Republican Party by a roughly 2-to-1 margin.

AP contributed to this report.